The Poetics of Reverie

August 13th, 2016


“Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world event”
― Gaston Bachelard

I borrowed the title of this post from one of my favorite writers, French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard, because that’s what I feel I’m in the midst of right now. I’m on the 67th day and the second notebook of writing down 100 childhood memories, a project I’ve embarked on with a faraway writer friend, a project that has no purpose, no lofty goal, no intended outcomes. The memories themselves are not as important as the side roads they take me down. I find myself drawing diagrams of the house where my soul was sheltered and nurtured and maps of the small town I grew up in. The rudimentary maps I dash off lead me to want more detail, more annotating of sacred spaces where insights or illuminations or wounds occurred. Some days I wish I had a whole wall on which to draw that map. Here is where we gathered bittersweet and milkweed pods. This country road is where I lost my virginity in an old blue Chevy. This fireplace is where my brothers and I huddled the day my father abandoned us. Here is the creek that would one day flood and drown two of my cousins on the same day. Just down the road is the old church where the farmers stood around outside in their clean white shirts and Sunday trousers while the women and children worshipped inside. This field is where I rode the hay wagon with my grandfather and ate sugar and butter sandwiches that my grandmother packed in a brown paper sack. I’m swimming backwards in time, and I need a map to lead me to all the forgotten memories and names and scars. A map that exists in child time, that never changes, where the brick schoolhouse has not yet been demolished, a Walmart is still in the future and I am always on the verge of becoming.

4 Responses to “The Poetics of Reverie”

  1. judith runyan says:

    I was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. These beautiful words tug at my heart..

  2. Diane says:

    This is SO powerful! In just a few lines, you have painted a whole book of childhood pictures complete with unnamed but clear emotions. How do you DO that?!?!

  3. Alicia says:

    I love being experiencing these memories with you, and going back in your time machine. There seems to be plenty of room for me and the rest of your readers in that little machine.

    This is begging to become a book. <3

  4. Veronica says:

    I’ve spent nearly all my life capturing memories, stories, ephemera. Carefully documenting and annotating my life. I used to love to remember, to bring moments back to life. As I get older, I find I want to forget. I want the memories to peel away like sunburned skin and and leave me in a space that’s fresh and new.

    My nest is officially empty now and I am a grandmother with vestiges of my own childhood and my children’s carefully boxed and labeled. Journals, planners, school papers, art work. I feel I need to let them go if I’m going to find a way forward. This is the task I’ve set my mind too. Now if my hands will follow and do the work….

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